erik lundegaard

Movies - Box Office posts

Sunday November 19, 2017

Box Office: The Not-So-Super Opening of 'Justice League'

Justice League box office


When the Marvel Cinematic Universe began back in 2008, its movies opened OK—generally in the $60 mil to $100 mil range. Then when the movie they were all building toward, “The Avengers,” came out in May 2012, the thing just exploded. It set a new record with a $206 million open and grossed a total of $623 mil in the U.S. Because each step along the way had been careful. They built quality upon quality. You wouldn't have had that opening without all the small steps preceding it. 

Now it's DC's turn and ... they already blew it. Their steps weren't careful. They didn't build customer loyalty. 

The preceding movies opened big—all more than $100 million, culminating in “Batman v. Superman”'s $166 million open last March. But that movie was panned, rightly, a sour taste remained, and people didn't forget, despite the positive feeling left by this year's “Wonder Woman.” As a result, “Justice League” didn't explode out of the gate. The opposite. The movie that everyone was waiting for opened at $96 mil this weekend, decidedly less than all of its predecessors. 

And even though “JL” is “Citizen Kane” compared with “Batman v. Superman,” its fairly low Rotten Tomatoes rating, 40%, doesn't bode well for its overall box office. Look at the performance of the other movies in the DC Extended Universe. 

DCEU Movie Thtrs Total Opening Open % RT%
Wonder Woman 4,165 $412,563,408 $103,251,471 0.25 92%
Man of Steel 4,207 $291,045,518 $116,619,362 0.40 55%
Suicide Squad 4,255 $325,100,054 $133,682,248 0.41 26%
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 4,256 $330,360,194 $166,007,347 0.50 27%

The better the movie, the longer the legs. Shittier, shorter the legs. “Wonder Woman” grossed four times its opening, “BvS” only two times. “BvS” began with a $63 million lead over “WW” and lost the race by $82 mil.

What might “Justice League” do? I don't think it'll fade as quickly as “BvS” simply because word-of-mouth won't be as bad. Plus “Wonder Woman” fans might come out for it. But at best it'll probably do 2.5 or three times its opening.

Which has got to be a huge disappointment for Warner Bros. But it's their fault: They're the ones who hired Zack Snyder way back when, despite, you know, all the evidence that he'd already left behind: “300,” “Watchmen,” “Sucker Punch.” 

Interestingly, some Zack Snyder fans are already blaming screenwriter Joss Whedon (“The Avengers”) for writing a lighter, funnier screenplay and reshooting scenes earlier this year. I don't agree. To me, those are the best parts of the movie. Besides, the bigger issue is the shitty steps DC took to get here, and that's on Zack. Whedon was brought in for a reason. And that reason has a name: Martha.  

In other news, “Wonder,” a Julia Roberts film about a kid with Treacher Collins Syndrome, which looked like the weepie of the week, got suprisingly strong reviews and surprisingly good box office. It finished second with $27 mil. “Thor: Ragnarok” fell off 61% for third place. 

Among the Oscar hopefuls, “Lady Bird” grossed $2.5 million in only 238 theaters, while “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” grossed $1.1 million in only 53 theaters. They finished 8th and 9th, respectively. 

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Posted at 11:43 AM on Nov 19, 2017 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday November 12, 2017

Box Office: 'Thor' Doesn't Fall, 'Lady Bird' Cheeps

Patricia, Vinny and I went to see Greta Gerwig's “Lady Bird” last night at the SIFF Egyptian, and all of us loved it. Turns out we're lucky. This movie playing less than a mile from our homes is playing in only 37 theaters in the country. It's playing in 1/100 the theaters of “Bad Mom's Christmas” (3,615) or “Daddy's Home 2” (3,575). A reminder of just how screwed up distribution is.

“Thor: Ragnarok” (4,080 theaters, forsooth) won the weekend again, grossing $56 mil and falling off only 53%. Good word-of-mouth on this one. After only 10 days, it's already the highest-grossing “Thor” movie domestically ($211 vs. $180 for the first and $207 for the second), and worldwide ($650). It's particularly big in China, the UK, South Korea, Brazil, and Australia.  

Newcomers “Daddy's Home 2” ($30 mil) and “Murder on the Orient Express” ($28.2), both poorly reviewed, came in second and third.

“Lady Bird,” with its measly 37 theaters, did $33k per to finish in 10th place with $1.2 mil. No other movie in the top 20 appeared in fewer than 200 theaters.

Other Oscar contenders at the bottom of the box office mix:

  • “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”: 4 theaters, $320k, 24th
  • “Wonderstruck”: 261 theaters, $245k, 26th
  • “The Square”: 50 theaters, $156k, 32nd

Go see good movies. 

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Posted at 10:26 AM on Nov 12, 2017 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday September 10, 2017

Box Office: Stephen King's 'It' Grosses A Lot

The Losers Club in "It"

The Losers Club in “It”: losers no more. 

On Friday afternoon, contemplating the release of “It,” the 2017 movie based on the 1986 Stephen King novel, and which almost assuredly got greenlit in April 2016 because of the huge buzz for Netflix's upcoming Stephen King-inspired TV series “Stranger Things,” I tweeted the following:

It was a joke. But after the success of “It” this weekend, it feels like less of a joke.

Some background. There are only three months in the calendar year that have not seen a movie gross more than $100 million opening weekend: January (best: “American Sniper,” $86m), October (“Gravity,” $55m), and September (“Hotel Transylvania 2,” $48m). September is a month, generally, to premiere lesser animated films (“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”), Christian-y flicks (“Dolphin Tale”), and movies that have Oscar buzz until everyone sees them (“Black Mass”). It's a dumping ground. 

Well, this weekend, “It” grossed $117 million.

That's the third-biggest opening this year, after “Beauty and the Beast” and “Guardians 2.” It's also—by far—the best opening for a movie based on a Stephen King novel. With a few exceptions (“The Shining,” “Shawshank,” “Stand By Me”), most of these have been schlock. More than 10 years ago, I had to do a piece for MSN ranking Stephen King movies and I thought my eyes were going to bleed from watching so much crap. Before “It,” only six King-based movies even grossed > $15 mil:

1408 MGM/W 2,678 $20,617,667 $71,985,628 2007
The Dark Tower Sony 3,451 $19,153,698 $48,903,461 2017
Secret Window Sony 3,018 $18,237,568 $48,022,900 2004
The Green Mile WB 2,875 $18,017,152 $136,801,374 1999
Carrie (2013) SGem 3,157 $16,101,552 $35,266,619 2013
Dreamcatcher WB 2,945 $15,027,423 $33,715,436 2003

“It” got good reviews (86% on RT), and has talent behind it (Cary Fukunaga of “True Detective” season 1 was one of its screenwriters back in 2010), and its first teaser trailer got more than 197 million views within 24 hours—a record for a trailer. But it surely owes this success, and probably its existence, to “Stranger Things.” Someone needs to send the Duffer brothers a thank-you note. 

So should we, now that I think about it. “It” has shown Hollywood that if it's good, and there's interest, we will show up. Even if you release it in September. 

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Posted at 08:47 AM on Sep 10, 2017 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday September 03, 2017

My Father Rails Against the Dog Days of Late-Summer Moviegoing ... in 1975

In early Sept. 1975, my father, movie critic for The Minneapolis Tribune in the '70s, and inspiration for the William H. Macy character in “Fargo,” wrote the below. Things haven't exactly changed. And if they have, it's in the wrong direction. Just look at that list of movies one could've seen in theaters in late-summer 1975: “Nashville,” “Love and Death,” “Jaws,” and a re-release of “Gone with the Wind.” Not to mention one of the Python movies. Wow. These days, we're happy if we're not too insulted by a late-summer movie.

I never did understand studio temerity during late summer and Labor Day, but according to the below it originated because the movies didn't want to compete with the new fall TV lineups. Yet with Netflix, amazon, et al., and a 365-day schedule, that's mostly a thing of the past. Isn't it? Surely a fun, interesting movie could clean up this weekend. But what did we get? A much-panned historical epic (“Tulip Fever”), a comedy from Mexico (“Hazlo con Hombre”) and various forgettable indies in limited releases. The result, according to the Box Office Mojo headline, is  “the Worst Labor Day Weekend in 17 Years.” The highest grosser among new releases is indicative: The 40th anniversary re-release of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Which came out two years after Dad wrote the below. 


Current Films
Sep 11 1975

Elliott Gould and Trevor Howard in Who?For years I thought that the term “dog days” owed its origin to the fact that the Dog Star was in its ascendancy in August. Nonsense. The phrase was coined by an irate moviegoer leafing through the amusement pages of his newspaper in a futile search for new, first-run movies in late summer. I haven’t seen such a profusion of canines since “1,001 Dalmations.” Most of them are such bombs they can’t be shown on airliners.

If you’ve already seen “Nashville,” “Love and Death” and “Monty Python,” and you don’t want to wait in line an hour to see “Jaws,” and you don’t want to see “Gone with the Wind” or “Clockwork Orange” for the umpteenth time, you’re out of luck these days. Unless, that is, you’re turned on by such turkeys as “White Line Fever,” “Blazing Stewardesses” and “Bucktown.” Or an Elliot Guould vehicle, aptly named “Who?,” that slipped into town last weekend, unheralded, and is departing today the same way.

Why is it that, with summer over for most of us, the kids back in school and a new television season starting, the film industry is still heavy on reruns and schlock? A local film distributor, who doesn’t agree with the policy but is at its mercy, says that the major companies prefer to wait “until the impetus of the new televion season has died down.” 

And the prospects for the next month or so can be summed up by the name of one of the “stars” of “White Line Fever”: Slim Pickens. ....

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Posted at 11:35 AM on Sep 03, 2017 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday July 30, 2017

Brooks Barnes Touts 'Box Office Success' that Isn't

I was alerted to a pretty suspect box-office argument by Mark Harris on Twitter and it turned out it was written by Brooks Barnes, whom I used to critique regularly, and who is apparently still fudging the details. 

Barf emojiHere's his lede about the weekend box office:

LOS ANGELES — The disconnect between Hollywood's taste and that of the masses has rarely been more sharply drawn as it was over the weekend, as the stylish “Atomic Blonde” sputtered and “The Emoji Movie” pushed past horrified critics to become a box office success.

Harris' thought: What an odd point to make when five of the other six top movies of the weekend are all critically acclaimed: 90 percenters on Rotten Tomatoes.

My addition: Barnes is positing a great divide between “Hollywood taste” and “the masses” based on two movies that did nearly the same business:

2 The Emoji Movie $25,650,000 4,075 $6,294
4 Atomic Blonde $18,554,000 3,304 $5,616

That's a pretty thin difference to hang your hat on. 

More, 14 movies this year have opened in 4,000+ theaters, and their opening weekends range from “Beauty and the Beast,” which grossed north of $174 million in March to “The Mummy,” which managed only $31.6 in June. Until “Emoji”'s $25 mil. That's Barnes' “box office success”? The weakest 4,000+ theater opener this year?

Hell, it would've been the weakest 4,000+ opener last year, too. And the year before that. And ... You know what? It's the weakest opening for any 4,000+-theater movie ever.

To Barnes that means “box office success.” 

It's such an odd piece. It almost feels like Barnes is settling scores or something; like he's got skin in the game:

Rival studios have spent the summer mocking Sony for backing “The Emoji Movie” with a full-throated marketing campaign, including a stunt at the Cannes Film Festival involving a parasailing actor, confetti and people in emoji costumes. Surely, sniffed the film elite, Sony was delusional if it thought it could make something out of such dreck.

“Sniffed the film elite”? Seriously, New York Times?

The weekend was won, by the way, by Christopher Nolan's “Dunkirk,” which fell off 44%, grossed another $28 mil, and passed the $100 million mark domestically. Worldwide, it's at $234.

Third place was the raunch comedy “Girls Trip,” which fell off only 35% to gross another $20 mil. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” fell off 39% to gross $13.5. It's at $278 and looks like it'll pass $300 mil. “Wonder Woman” added another $3+ to edge $5 mil closer to $400.

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Posted at 04:19 PM on Jul 30, 2017 in category Movies - Box Office
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